murkily forward

For reasons I can’t disclose, we decided a while back not to write about Saul here anymore. And my dissertation is crushing me, so I need to work on it for all of the minutes. I also have mountains of laundry. And I need to reply to people’s thoughtful comments on my last post.

But Bram is sleeping on me right now, and he had an allergic reaction to penicillin yesterday, so I just want to keep him close. And it’s impossible to spread all of my dissertation notes out with a twenty-four-pound sleeping kid on my chest – and it’s for sure impossible to do laundry – so I’ll take the moment to write. Because I am sad today. Just, sad.

The month S was with us was crazy. Like, lives upturned by a tornado that you happen to somehow survive crazy. But being a family of four was amazing. J and I both felt so RIGHT about that.

Now we’ve been a family of three again for over a month, and it is full of good things. More rest. More energy for Bram. For each other. But there’s something missing.

On the one hand, that something is clearly our sweet little red-headed boy. And there’s nothing to be done about that. But on the other, it’s just a fourth person in general. A second kid. It was this way when we lost E too: we were so lost without her little self, but we were also devastated to be, once more, far away from parenting. It’s like that now. It isn’t that I need another child here right now. But it does cause some panic not to know how or when another child might come.

As I see it, we have four options, four possible ways forward. That alone is a thing of great privilege, so I do have some perspective.

  • I could carry her or him.
  • J could carry her or him.
  • We could find an older child in need of adopting who fits our family dynamic.
  • Another birth mom could choose us.

Oh, complex life.

None of these feel quite within our reach, and – adopting an older child aside – we’ve done all of them already. There’s none of that magic excitement here about any of this. In its place, there’s low grade anxiety about all of our possible paths. Sigh. We are tired of trying. Trying has been so riddled with grief for us that it just feels exhausting. Having the children doesn’t – well it does, but in a meaningful way – but making or bringing them into our lives? That takes guts that we hardly have these days. We are worn out by the having of kids. Now we just want to have them.

When Saul was here, we got used to the narrative of Irish twins. We came around, and hard, to the idea of raising kids very close in age. We built a whole new narrative, and we still want it. We’re tired of having to let narratives go. Irish twins are probably out now (barring another sudden placement), but sooner feels better than later. I have to (gods help me) go to committee on April 15th. After that I have a WHOLE SUMMER OFF WITH MY BOY. Marvel. Then I’ll adjunct next year. And the year after that, with a little luck, I’ll officially be on the tenure track somewhere. What I’m saying is, this is a good good window. This is as good as it will ever get for me in terms of flexibility.

But we can’t just will another child into being.

So, the possibility of me carrying. And oh, oh, oh how I long to choose this. I have a regular cycle. I will ovulate next week. I’m saying: we could be pregnant next week. But, though no one can know, we’ve been told the chances of another second-, or even a third-trimester loss is about 1 in 3. Which is an overwhelming figure. If we were new at this we’d take those odds, but we’re not. We are veterans. We know what it actually means for a baby to be here one day and not the next. And frankly, I’m not sure how much more child loss we have in us. We are bruised as a couple. As individuals. It would be a monumental risk.

Then there’s J’s body. She’s willing. She’d like a labor that isn’t seventy-one hours. But it was hard on her to carry, and it was hard for me to be the NGP through a pregnancy. It was hard because I still want to do it myself. So there’s baggage there. And anyway, her period isn’t back. And with this kid’s devotion to milk, who knows when it will be. So that’s a holding pattern.

Then there’s an older child. J fell in love with one the other day: a three-year-old boy. But he’s severely physically and cognitively impaired, and we’re just not up to that task. Not severe. Not by absolute choice. Not with both of us working. It’s sad, but there it is.

Then there’s placement. Our profile is still up. A birth mother looked at our book last week. You never know. But being chosen was so much like a lightning strike. How much can we afford to hope to be chosen again? And then there’s the fear of another post-placement loss to be navigated. And the money. We lost a lot of money, which we have no real way of recouping. Even if another birth mother felt drawn to us, it would be an emotional and financial landmine.

So there it is. Anyone want to just step in and solve this for us? We could stand to be mothered through a bit. Or doula-ed. Or papa-ed. Or just friend-ed. Whatever you’ve got. Thanks.


20 thoughts on “murkily forward

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your raw, honest feelings. I’ve not been in your position but I’ve been sending up prayers for the three of you and hope that a decision will come to you so that there’s no doubt and that you find complete peace with the future. xo

  2. Oh, I so wish for you that a fourth person finds their way into your family when the time is right. I know that time feels like it should be soon. It must be hard to trust that things will unfold as they are meant to when you’ve been through so much that seems so unfair. We’re sending thoughts for your growing family out into the universe though.

    Also, is the adoption agency not refunding you any of the money that was lost when Saul’s birth mother took him back? It seems they should have some sort of responsibilty and recourse. (I know it was more than money that was lost, but they could at least replace the money.)

    Also, if you would share, what are the reasons behind the risks of you carrying again? Are there any ways the risks could be minimized?

    • What an important question, Allison. Thank you. And yes: there are ways that it could be minimized. I will share more about my body re: pregnancy soon. It’s complicated, so I’ll write a post. For now, though, thank you for introducing this question. It seems obvious, but it really wasn’t something I was taking into consideration.

      Oh, and the agency. They never made a dime. All of the money we spent went to covering birth mother expenses (which aren’t refundable). Also, Jax took a month of unpaid maternity leave. A huge part of our total adoption savings, all told. And all unrefundable.

    • Hugs from you, Heila, are as good as advice (if not better). I hope you’re well! You’re getting down to it soon with school, right?

      • We’re all fine thanks, sweltering in the 30+ degree Celsius glorious mid-summer weather! School has been on for a week and a half and so far, so good. Madam likes her teacher, who has 20 years of teaching experience and a youngster of her own. She is in grade 5 now, 10 turning 11 in our system.

  3. I, too, wish for that fourth person to join your family. What a loving home you have waiting for him or her. I have no wisdom, but much hope.

    When I was finishing up my dissertation, I, too, was incredibly stressed, though for different and not so noble reasons. I kept telling myself that this is one time in life where it just has to be good enough. I just had to pass. I don’t tend to accept “just good enough” for anything in my life, but it really is true in this case, and it helped me get through. Besides, you need to leave yourself something to work on when you turn it into a book :) And beyond that, I am perpetually amazed at these incredibly insightful, thoughtful, and thought provoking posts that you and J continue to produce in spite of everything else you have going on.

    • Thank you for this. And YES. YES. I need to let go. I also need a dissertation director who knows how to do that. I’m his first, and I think he feels really attached to this being all that he knows it can be. So do I, but I can’t get it there just exactly now. So YES. Thank you for letting me off the hook a bit. If I message you his number, do you think you could phone him for me? ;)

  4. My knee-jerk reaction is 100% that you should get pregnant next week. To me, it’s running a risks/benefit analysis, and while it is definitely so scary, the potential fulfillment, healing, and joy outweigh the scary. Because, frankly, there is no getting another human into your family without the scary. There just isn’t. You do get to pick which scary.

    Also, you could simultaneously be exploring the adoption of an older child (and of course leaving open the option of a lightning strike placement) without making your life impossible, because I am well aware that you wouldn’t mind “accidentally having 5 kids!” There is no other couple/family to/for whom I’d be more thrilled to see that happen.

    I could probably add several Atticus Finch quotations about bravery and courage, but I’ll spare you. Adventure is out there! It’s going to be incomprehensibly beautiful. XXOOXX

    • Ack! Ack! (That is absolutely all I can say to you right now. I’ll write a post about this stuff, in which your comment will feature heavily.) Ack!

  5. Hugs to you, J, and B (and in my heart to S and E). I have so much I want to say, but I am stealing a break from my doctoral exam research, so I will have to leave at that for now. Just know that I admire and love your family fiercely, and I know the “right” decision will make itself known when it is time. But that certainly doesn’t make the waiting times any easier, does it?

  6. Sending a hug or ten. Just good good things. Wanting so badly for that child to join you, too. Part of me also thinks…you should go ahead and carry!…but ah, ah. I understand how difficult it would be to take that risk no matter what the odds say. I wish that medicine had clearer answers there. I wish adoption weren’t so expensive. I am over here hoping and having faith for you, no matter what.

  7. There is another option that I don’t remember you mentioning. We went through CPS to adopt our first boy. Then, we went through months of trying to get pregnant with no baby at the end. We said we would NEVER go through a CPS adoption again, but lo and behold, we got tired of waiting for a baby to come, so we opened up our file again with CPS. 3 days later, we went to meet a baby and one day after that, he came home with us. CPS is a great option. It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, for starters. You have options. You do not have to be a foster parent. We are what’s called a “legal risk” family. This means that we do not want to foster, we only want a baby that they are “90%” sure will not go back to their parents or be adopted by a family member. Both of our boys have been completely different situations. Both hard in their own ways. Our first involved a hard, roller coaster of a fight with a family member that decided she wanted him in the final hour. We won and that’s all that matters. If you’d like to talk more about this option, let me know. You can “friend” me on fb, if you’d like. My full name is Brooke Elliott and I live in Lubbock, TX. Maybe that will help you find me.

  8. I know so, so well the feeling of being done with trying and just ready for your family to be complete. I’m sorry you’re in limbo. I don’t know if it’s an option at all, but could you do IVF with genetic testing on the embryos? I realize that’s a very expensive question, but I know some insurance would cover that.

    I really empathize with the feeling of having to rewrite your narrative/get used to a new narrative and on when you just want to live. And the feeling of knowing that your family isn’t complete but not knowing when you’ll get there or how. I hate that you have to face this. My go-to comfort song for that time was Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem:” “Ring the bells that still can ring/Forget your perfect offering/There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.” I know through all the cracks you’ll find your beautiful fourth person in love and light.

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